What is 5S?

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The 5S is a lean manufacturing methodology that enhances efficiency within your workplace. It consists of five steps, all of them starting with the letter S.

Why apply 5S’s?

There are many reasons for applying 5S’s within your workplace, no matter what type of industry you belong to; even applicable for the services industry.

  • It allows having a more organized and productive work area
  • It makes evident the 7 wastes
  • It creates a standard for improvement
  • It involves all people
  • It creates high impact results with relatively low cost
  1. Sort (Seiri)

To sort means to identify all unnecessary items and eliminate everything that is definitely not used.

Many times you keep countless equipment, tools, spare parts and objects in your workplace. Your idea is to use, repair, recondition them one day in the future. However, they never fulfill their purpose and lie there for a long time, occupying space, generating additional movements of materials, using labor and accumulating dirt. If you’re willing to use them, make a plan, set a deadline and do it. Otherwise, focus on this step (Seiri)

Eliminate the dispensable.

  1. Set in order (Seiton)

Don’t know where a certain tool is located? Are your items located today here and tomorrow there? Is there just one expert who knows where the tools are located within the chaos?

All these points are excellent excuses to keep your site disorganized and messy as well as contributing to maintaining an unattractive work environment.

Set in order involves:

  • Assign and identify a place for each item
  • Determine the exact each item amount on hand
  • Ensure that each item is ready for usage
  • Ensure that each item returns to its place

Define a place for everything and everything in its place. That’s all.

  1. Shine (Seiso)

Once you have eliminated the dispensable and you have defined the organization of your workplace, you can move on step number 3: shine, which means to clean your work area.

Cleaning has a technical basement, ensuring either machinery or workplace remains in proper maintenance conditions. Remember that every machinery manual considers cleaning as a basic maintenance step to avoid dust accumulation, unnecessary heat, and friction generation and to distinguish parts that require additional attention, etc.

Some tips to consider at this step:

  • Identify the necessary and adequate cleaning materials
  • Assign a suitable place to each cleaning material
  • Define a methodology to prevent the area from getting dirty
  • Implement a cleaning routine
  1. Standardize (Seiketsu)

The next step is to define a standardized methodology that allows you to minimize time and energy. Standardization implies uniformity, avoiding the variability of processes, procedures, inventories, and use of resources.

  • Standardize everything and make the standards visible
  • Implement practices that promote the usage of standards
  • Share the information without any need to search or request
  • Implement Boards, Manual of Instructions and Procedures (SOP)
  1. Sustain (Shitsuke)

Maintain a philosophy of continuous improvement in your work environment. Today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. Nothing is perfect, everything is perfectible. Consider the introduction of new practices that involve less time and less effort. Pursuit the continuous improvement cycle (PDCA) within your organization:

  • Make visible your 5S results
  • Exchange information with other areas or plants.
  • Promotes 5S throughout the company
  • Encourage Leadership and participation of all members as a key to success.

The excellence is not one moment, but a way.

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